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Hunger Beat

Retired firefighter continues a lifetime of service at the Food Depository

When David Flores, 57, retired from the Chicago Fire Department in 2021 after 20+ years of service, he knew he was ready for a new mission. Becoming a Food Depository volunteer allowed him to continue doing what comes naturally to him – serving others.

“I feel so fortunate to be in the position I’m in,” he said. “I’m finally at the place where I have the freedom to spend my time as I choose. I want to keep doing something that is useful, something that gives back to the community.”

Flores had seen the Food Depository trucks drive through his neighborhood, and he knew his wife and son had volunteered with us before, but it wasn’t until his retirement that his journey with the Food Depository officially began. He immediately connected to the mission to end hunger and has been volunteering regularly with us ever since.

“There’s so much to do as a volunteer (at the Food Depository),” Flores said. “I feel like I’m still learning every day, and I want to continue to help where I’m needed.”

A man and a woman pack boxes of apples

Flores regularly participates in repacks at the Food Depository.

Nowadays, you will find Flores at the Food Depository every Tuesday and Thursday morning, where he engages in various roles, from packing boxes and preparing food for delivery at our repacks to harvesting crops with our hydroponics pilot program. Additionally, he has volunteered at events such as the Chicago Stand Down, which provides free resources for veterans in need, where he helps the Food Depository distribute food.

“It’s humbling to be at an event like that,” said Flores. “As a veteran myself, it hurts me to know that there are so many of my fellow vets in need of help. That’s part of what I like about working here (at the Food Depository)."

"It’s opened my eyes to a lot of things and led me to experiences I never envisioned myself doing.”

Flores grew up in Pilsen, a neighborhood on Chicago’s South side. He is one of 12 brothers and sisters. “Things weren’t always so rosy,” he said. “There were times that were hard for us. It’s not easy to provide for 12 kids.”

“It means a lot to now be able to do something like this and know that I’m helping others who might be in the position I was in when I was younger.”

A volunteer reaches for plants on a shelf.

David Flores helps plant herbs in our hydroponics pilot program.

Flores still lives on the South side, and he hopes to keep making a difference in his community by volunteering with the Food Depository. In the future, he wants to expand his range of volunteer activities by engaging in more events like the Stand Down, assisting at more of our partner food distribution sites and possibly volunteering as a delivery driver.

“I really enjoy spending my time here,” said Flores. “It’s a great place to be a part of. I’ve learned a lot and worked with some great people, all while doing something that benefits others, so I’m grateful.”

Volunteers play a crucial role in our mission to end hunger. Join David Flores and the rest of our volunteers and help make a difference for our neighbors experiencing food insecurity across Chicago and Cook County.

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